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Council / SIC keen to serve local beef in schools in the future

THE COUNCIL is hoping to serve up Shetland beef in schools in the future as it looks to source more local produce.

Shetland Islands Council’s schools catering manager Neil Beattie said talks have been held with Uradale Farm’s Jakob Eunson as well as other beef suppliers.

The council’s meat contract goes out to tender every couple of years and the current holders are local wholesalers Hughson Brothers and JW Grays, but they do not use local beef.

“We get meat from where they get meat,” Beattie explained.

“They do both get Shetland lamb in, but they don’t get any Shetland beef in.

“We joined Shetland Food and Drink and I’ve been in conversations with Jakob Eunson and a couple of other guys about getting them involved in the meat contract when the new one comes out. We are hoping to get Shetland beef in.”

Elsewhere on the school menu, all of the lamb served in schools is from Shetland – but it is not always a favourite with the pupils.

“In an ideal world we could get he kids to eat more lamb, but they just don’t,” Beattie said. “There’s only so much we can do.”

All of the milk at schools is from Shetland Farm Dairies, while all fish is landed in Shetland, with the exception of tuna.

Schools buy most of their bread from local bakeries too.

The schools are also taking in locally grown vegetables wherever the supply can meet demand.

Beattie said a couple of the larger schools are supplied with vegetables from south mainland farm J K Mainland, while other canteens are encouraged to use local suppliers of veg.

“This is something we’re keen to push further and further,” he said.

“There will always been some fruit and veg that we’ll get from south – fruit especially – but we do the best that we can.”

All food served in schools is sourced directly from either Shetland producers or Shetland based suppliers, but the suppliers do get food from further afield.

Beattie said the council buys from wholesale companies Grays, Knowles, Hughson Brothers and Shetland Freezer Foods.

“We’re keen to use as much stuff as we can up here,” he added.

It comes after the council received an award for the quality of its school meals.

The menu in local schools is calculated to be 96 per cent freshly prepared – one of the highest figures in Scotland.

Meanwhile, NHS Shetland said in the Gilbert Bain Hospital canteen all fish, milk, lamb and bakery items served to customers are local.